CEO Eugene Jones, Jr. gives second big resignation in a month
Crusader Staff Report
Chicago Housing Authority CEO Eugene Jones Jr. on Tuesday, August 20, abruptly resigned, becoming the second high-ranking official to leave the department under Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Lightfoot has not named a replacement, but once again the CHA is in flux as its future leadership remains uncertain.
Jones’ decision comes one month after CHA Board Chairman John T. Hooker announced his resignation after his four-year term expired. Jones’ departure allows Lightfoot to make her first appointment of a major department since she began her term as the city’s first Black female mayor.
With two of the agency’s top brass out, Lightfoot also has the opportunity to shape the CHA’s leadership to fit her vision and goals for the nation’s second largest housing agency.
Jones reportedly said he was not pushed out by Lightfoot, but said the decision was his own. According to the CHA’s 2019 budget report, Jones was expected to make $291,590 this year. He had one year left on his five-year contract.
“Since my arrival at CHA four and-a-half years ago, I have been committed to meeting CHA’s goals of producing more housing and to supporting the city in its efforts to expand housing opportunities in every Chicago community,” Jones said in a statement. “I am looking forward to pursuing new opportunities.”
Jones was the latest in a string of Black CEOs of a department that has weathered criticism and controversy in the last decade.
He was appointed by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel after his predecessor, Charles Woodyard resigned after months of speculation. Woodyard replaced Lewis Jordan, who was forced to resign after news reports revealed that he and several top CHA officials used business credit cards to eat at lavish restaurants and purchase gift cards.
Jones’ leadership proved to be the most stable and without scandal. His last day on the job is September 27.
“I want to thank her for the opportunity to stay on and serve CHA’s residents and to be a part of the larger efforts to help build and strengthen our neighborhoods,” Jones said in a statement. “I also want to thank our Board of Commissioners for their continued confidence in me.”
Under Jones’ leadership, CHA last year reopened the waitlist for section vouchers after 260,000 applications in 2014 forced officials to close it for four years.
During Jones’ term, CHA reached a settlement to resolve the Gautreaux case, a landmark 52-year old lawsuit that forced the agency to build public housing in more affluent neighborhoods across the city.
Though his leadership was largely above scandal, Jones’ agency still drew criticism from housing advocates who grew disillusioned as CHA’s $1.6 million Plan of Transformation failed to replace demolished public housing developments with affordable housing complexes.
Under Jones’ leadership neighborhoods that included the demolished Cabrini Green high-rises continued to flourish with sleek, affordable housing units that gentrified the area, pushing out low income residents while luring a new generation of young working professionals. CHA plans to demolish the last remaining Cabrini Green row houses, built more than a decade before the Cabrini Green high-rises.
Jones joined CHA as Chief Property Officer in April 2015. He was named acting CEO two months later. In January 2016, then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel named him the permanent CEO.
Before arriving at CHA, Jones served in executive capacities at housing agencies in Toronto, Detroit, Indianapolis and Kansas City. He has more than 35 years of service and experience in housing operations, resident services, accounting and finance, auditing, maintenance, new construction, capital construction and Housing Choice Voucher programs. Jones resigned from the Toronto Community Housing Corporation in 2015.
Jones resigned from the CHA without discussing his future career plans. Earlier this year, Jones denied speculation that he was leaving and headed for New York.